Mercer wordmark

Board Approves New Degree Programs, Elects New Trustees and Officers

November 22, 2010

Media Contact: Mark Vanderhoek, (478) 301-4037 or

MACON — The Mercer University Board of Trustees during its annual meeting on Nov. 19 approved several new undergraduate and graduate degree programs, elected 12 new members – including two Life Trustees -- and chose new officers for 2011.

The Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics will add two new bachelor’s programs next fall. Trustees approved new Bachelor of Business Administration programs in accounting and human resource management. The human resource management major will be offered in Atlanta at the University’s Cecil B. Day Graduate and Professional campus. The accounting major and minor will be offered at both the Macon and Atlanta campuses.

The School of Medicine will add a Master of Science in Biomedical Sciences and a certificate in preclinical sciences to its academic programs. The master’s degree is a two-and-a-half-year program designed to prepare students for the medical research field or for further graduate training. This intensive research degree program will be offered in both Macon and Savannah beginning next fall. The certificate in preclinical sciences is a year-long program for students who want to pursue a medical degree, but lack the necessary undergraduate coursework to gain admission to medical school. Students will be recruited from rural and underserved areas of Georgia with the intent that these students will earn admission to a Doctor of Medicine program and ultimately return to their hometowns to practice as primary care physicians. The certificate will be offered on the Macon campus beginning next fall.

The Tift College of Education will offer a Master of Education in Higher Education Leadership next fall on the Atlanta and Macon campuses. The master’s program is designed for professionals currently employed at two-year or four-year colleges who are seeking career advancement, as well as those seeking to enter the higher education field.

The College of Continuing and Professional Studies will add two new degree programs, a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and a Bachelor of Science in Informatics. The master’s in organizational leadership is designed to prepare ethical leaders for a variety of organizations and will be offered at the Atlanta campus next fall and the Henry County Regional Academic Center in January 2012. The degree will have three areas of concentration: leadership for the health care professional, leadership and organizational development and change, and leadership for the nonprofit organization. The Bachelor of Science in Informatics will prepare students to critically analyze data and information, so it can be used effectively in a variety of settings. The degree includes a common core of courses and three tracks: health information technology, web development and human-computer interaction and general informatics. Pending approval by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, the degree will be offered in Atlanta and Henry County next fall and in Macon in the fall of 2012.

The College of Nursing will add a family nurse practitioner track to its Master of Science in Nursing, helping to prepare new nurse practitioners to meet an increasing need for general practice and primary care health services. The family nurse practitioner major will be available in the Master of Science in Nursing program on the Atlanta campus beginning next summer.

Trustees elected to serve five-year terms include Cathy Callaway Adams, Kennesaw; Malcolm S. Burgess Jr., Macon; John W. Collier, Macon; Milton L. Cruz, DeMercadeo, Guaynabo, Puerto Rico; Linda Willis Eydt, Atlanta; Nancy A. Grace, Atlanta; N. Dudley Horton, Jr., Eatonton; Carolyn T. McAfee, Macon; and William L. Self, Alpharetta. Donald E. Baxter of Houston, Texas, was elected to fill the unexpired term of the late Ralph Newton.

Newly elected Life Trustees are Thomas B. Black of Columbus and James Cowart of Norcross.

Black has been a committed and generous supporter of Mercer since 1980. He consistently gives to the Mercer Fund and is a Life Member of the President’s Club. Since 1980, Black has served five consecutive terms as a Mercer trustee and chair of the board in 1991. A Baylor University graduate, he is a retired administrator with the Bradley-Turner Foundation, a top-10 private foundation in Georgia that has helped to fund several projects at Mercer, including the University Center and The Science and Engineering Building.

He is a past campaign chairman and president of the United Way in Columbus; a trustee of the Brookstone School in Columbus; a trustee of the Walter Allen Richards Foundation; and a chairman of the Community Projects Foundation. He is a deacon at Columbus’ First Baptist Church.

Cowart has been a steadfast and loyal supporter of Mercer since the early 1970s and has been a generous advocate of Mercer On Mission since the program launched in 2007. A consistent donor to the Mercer Fund, Cowart is a Life Member of the President’s Club. He has served on the President’s Council, as well as the Board of Visitors for the Eugene W. Stetson School of Business and Economics, and is also a member of The Executive Forum. Since 1972, Cowart has served six consecutive terms on the Board of Trustees.

A graduate of Southern Polytechnic State University, he is president and owner of Jim Cowart, Inc., a Dunwoody-based land development firm. A builder, investor, and realtor, Cowart is a member of the North Fulton Chamber of Commerce, the Greater Atlanta Homebuilders Association, the Gwinnett Foundation, the Council for Quality Growth of Gwinnett County, and the Metropolitan Atlanta YMCA.

The trustees unanimously elected Diane Owens of Atlanta to serve a one-year term as chair of the board, and David E. Hudson of Augusta to serve a one-year term as chair of the Executive Committee. Owens, a partner with the Atlanta law firm of Swift Currie McGhee & Hiers, LLP, is the first woman to serve as chair of Mercer’s Board of Trustees. She holds undergraduate and law degrees from Mercer. Hudson is a former chair of the Board of Trustees and a partner with the Augusta law firm of Hull Barrett. He holds an undergraduate degree from Mercer and a law degree from Harvard.

Trustees rotating off the board this month include H. Allen Baldree, Vero Beach, Fla.; Benjamin W. Griffith III, Macon; Robert L. Moore, Lyons; William A. Moye, McDonough; Curtis L. Pickels, Quitman; Kenneth D. Sams, Macon; W. David Sapp, Atlanta; Richard A. Schneider, Atlanta; and James R. Williams, Eastman.

About Mercer University
Founded in 1833, Mercer University is a dynamic and comprehensive center of undergraduate, graduate and professional education. The University enrolls more than 8,200 students in 11 schools and colleges – liberal arts, law, pharmacy, medicine, business, engineering, education, theology, music, nursing and continuing and professional studies – on major campuses in Macon, Atlanta and Savannah and at three regional academic centers across the state. Mercer is affiliated with two teaching hospitals — Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah and the Medical Center of Central Georgia in Macon, and has educational partnerships with Warner Robins Air Logistics Center in Warner Robins and Piedmont Healthcare in Atlanta. The University operates an academic press and a performing arts center in Macon and an engineering research center in Warner Robins. Mercer is the only private university in Georgia to field an NCAA Division I athletic program. For more information, visit